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The Great War Theatre Project, Contemporary Veterans Respond to WWI Letters with David Chrisinger, and PTSD Awareness Month

This Week's Post:  This week's post, "A Journey of Commemoration: The Great War Through the Lens of Art," comes from Susan Werbe, the executive producer of the The Great War Theatre Project: Messengers of Bitter Truth, performed in Boston, New York, and Letchworth (UK). Werbe discusses the process of weaving voice, dance, theatre, writings, and song cycles to examine the collective memory of war on the individual. She also talks about her latest project, Letters You Will Not Get, a libretto, using various genres of women's WWI writing, set to commissioned contemporary music. A wonderful showcase of an extraordinary, multidisciplinary project—not to miss! (photo above - a scene from The Great War Theatre Project)

See Me for Who I AmNext Week's Post: Next week's post, "More Gentile Than Grim: Letters Home from WWI," comes from author, editor, and award-winning teacher, David Chrisinger. Chrisinger is the editor of See Me For Who I Ama collection of essays by veteran students that seeks to undermine three main media-create stereotypes that divide them from the American people they have fought to protect: as superhuman; as broken, disabled, and traumatized; or as dangerous, ticking time bombs.  In this post, he discusses a WWI project he completed with new student veterans at the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point.  In this seminar, he teaches veterans and offers not only the history of American veterans coming home from war but also a workshop helping them to tell their own stories. In this innovative assignment, he asks his students to analyze hundreds of pages of letters that had been written by soldiers fighting on the Western Front during World War I, who had grown up in the town where their university is located. Don't miss this post describing their surprising, insightful reactions!

And, Brian Castner, co-editor of The Road Ahead author of All the Ways We Kill and Die and The Long Walk, wrote the foreword for Chrisinger's book and will be featured the week of June 19th at WWrite!

*June is PTSD Awareness Month: WW1 gave us the term "shell shock," the words used to describe soldiers whoShellShock manifested the signs of suffering through a shell blast on the battlefield. Symptoms included fatigue, tremor, confusion, nightmares and impaired sight and hearing. It was often diagnosed when a soldier was unable to function and no obvious cause could be identified. Coined by soldiers but officialized in 1917 by psychologist, Charles Myers, "shell shock" presented a medical mystery—soldiers presented the same symptoms without frontline experience. Without medical proof of a combat wound, many of these wounded were put on trial and even shot for cowardice. In 2006, Britain formally pardoned 306 British WW1 soldiers suffering from shell shock and executed (image, right, WWI soldier during a blast).

ShellShockedBrainShell shock evolved into a more encompassing term, PTSD, Posttraumatic stress disorder, and first appeared in the DSM-III in 1980, five years after the end of the Vietnam War. Since then, the definition and symptoms have expanded and include not only psychological but also physical trauma. A recent article from the National Geographic points to new research that may help lift the veil on PTSD and hopefully dispel the stereotypes that next week's WWrite blogger, David Chrisinger, discusses in his seminar with student veterans. Read the National Geographic article,  "'Shell Shock'—The 100-Year Mystery May Now Be Solved" by clicking here. (image left, brain research results from National Geographic article)

This month, the WWrite Blog Weekend Updates and Posts will introduce literary works dealing with "shell GreatWarModernMemoryshock"/PTSD and WWI. A great place to start is the Paul Fussell's classic, The Great War and Modern Memory, a work exploring trauma in the writing of Siegfried Sassoon, Robert Graves, Edmund Blunden, David Jones, Isaac Rosenberg, and Wilfred Owen. If you have a work in mind, please email me at [email protected] 

*Adapted from WWI Centennial News Podcast of June 6, 2017.


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